Menuplease: Mexican in Anderson at La Casa Cuevas

When Casa Ramos closed in early 2009, La Casa Cuevas immediately opened in the same spot. Childress not being a main artery, and La Casa Cuevas not being part of a chain, the restaurant seems to be somewhat out of sight, out of mind to potential customers who come off I-5 or are staying at a nearby motel. Femme de Joie has visited several times and it was never more than half-full at lunchtime. That’s a shame, because the food is markedly better than before.

Customers are greeted and seated almost immediately upon entering La Casa Cuevas. Seating is in comfortable booths; there’s also a room that can be reserved for parties. In addition to the usual chips and salsa, a small dish of warm refried beans topped with cotija cheese is brought to the table. Both Tapatio and Cholula sauces are available.

The menu is quite lengthy, exhaustive, and colorful, but it isn’t organized well. It tends to fall into “Specialties” and “House Favorites” types of sections, rather than the usual “burritos,” “tacos,” “por los gringos” kind of sections. They probably have what you want, but it will take some searching on the menu to find it.

On M. de Joie’s first visit she rashly ordered a margarita, which was brought in one of those glasses about the size and weight of a halved bowling ball. It was a bit on the acidic side so if you like them sweeter, be sure to specify.

Two mahi-mahi tacos with rice and rancho beans

These fish tacos were covered in a sweet creamy tomato sauce, like 1000 island dressing without the pickles. It pretty much covered the delicate fish, but wasn’t so cloying that it was unpleasant. A small heap of tomato-lettuce-cilantro dice was available to garnish the tacos, which toned down the sauce and gave a fresh crunch contrast to the soft grilled fish. Rancho beans are simply pinto beans in their own broth. One or two were underdone, indicating these are house-made.

Chicken tortilla soup

A warming bowl of soup featured lots of crunchy tortilla strips, shredded chicken, diced avocados, and a little bit of cheese. The broth was some kind of canned or boxed broth with added puree of chile and a heavy sprinkle of dried herbs on top. This could be really delicious with a little more care in the making of the broth..

Burrito Dos Amigos, $12.50

Not two burritos, but one very large tortilla wrap cut in half, with one side filled with chile verde and the other with chile colorado, and a paper-thin scattering of cheese on top. A tiny deep-fried tortilla bowl filled with fresh pico de gallo was a nice touch. M. de Joie much preferred the chile verde with its tart, mellow sauce; while the chile colorado was beefy and filling with none of that acrid taste that red chile sauces sometimes have, it was also excessively salty.

Tacos Carbon

Amico del SIgnore chose chicken tacos carbon. Not the pick-up-and-stuff-in-your-face type of tacos, these were very tender and easily cut with a fork. They had been cooked on the flattop but weren’t at all greasy and had ample cubed grilled chicken, light cheese, and diced tomato filling.

Chicken mole

Though the mole owes a lot to a jar of Dona Maria, it was still nicely prepared, not too sweet, with a good balance of chile and chocolate tastes, and tender strips of chicken. Served with warm tortillas on the side, this made a not-too-heavy lunch.

Notice anything odd here? Yes, that’s right. There’s an enormous empty space in the center of the plate. This shrimp and cheese quesadilla on a whole-wheat tortilla – advertised as low-carb – while tasty enough, simply screams DIET PLATE. While Femme de Joie liked the quesadilla, she was somewhat distracted off by a tiny amount of food on a giant platter. Either put it on a smaller plate, or fill that space with something edible.

La Casa Cuevas has food worth making a trip to Anderson for. Service is very fast and friendly, portions generally are fair for the money, and the very extensive menu provides something for everyone. Does it reach that ever-elusive “authentic” standard? Probably not for some folks, but overall, you won’t be disappointed.

La Casa Cuevas, 2830 Childress Drive, Anderson, CA 96007. 530-378-2118. Open daily, 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM. Cash, cards; no checks. Full bar. Parking lot on-site. Vegetarian and low-carb options. Catering; private dining room. Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Casa-Cuevas/399477242677

Femme de Joie’s first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Chamberlain, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of

Femme de Joie
Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

24 Responses

  1. Avatar CoachBob says:

    Well, that was NOT an appitizing review or set of pictures for me. IMO, nothing worse than a "ball" of canned Spanish rice scooped out with a large ice cream type scoop. Not done that way in all the pictures, which tells me there's an issue with any kind of consistency. Problem!

    Nothing is worse in Mexican restaurants than the "canned" look and taste of rice and beans. Too bad most Mexican places (in my considerable experience), take no care in the rice or beans…scoop 'em out of a can and hope you don't notice. Add to that the picture of that absurd plate with so little on it (by comparison to the size of the plate) and you've got folks in the restaurant biz that just don't understand what they're doing. There was enough room on that plate to place a rolled up Searchlight for the customers' reading pleasure (or not).

    My score: 1 (out of 10)! I won't be going to Anderson any time soon for this place. Thank you for the warning. It's appreciated. And I mean that sincerely.

    Coach Bob

    • Avatar turtlebarr says:

      Well coach Bob it appears that you are judging a book by its cover. I eat at this excellent establishment all the time. Yes the food that comes out does not look like the pictures shown but the quality of food is more than you can ask for. The portion sizes are much larger than the pictures. I am a big eater and I can guarantee that if you order something other than 1 or 2 tacos you probably wont be able to finish your plate. I always order the 3 item meal for the variety and always have food left over. This has been the best Mexican food restaurant in Anderson since Betos closed years ago. For every one else this is an excellent quality food and fast service restaurant. 5 stars from me.

  2. Avatar Name says:

    How much dorado was in those tacos – because it does not look like there is any from the pic?

    I am just guessing from the pics and review that this could be one of those places where everything kind of has the same taste, no matter what you order. There are several mexican joints around town like that. Apologies if I am wrong.

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Name,

      If you click on the photo, it should enlarge greatly, and you can then see the fish. Much of it was covered with the pink sauce but it was indeed there – not in a large filet, but smaller pieces. La Cabana in Redding is the only place Femme de Joie knows of that uses very large fish filets in their tacos. (If you know of another place, please share the information, as M. de Joie would love to try it.)

      Generally speaking, M. de Joie has found that Mexican restaurants that cover up everything with loads of melted cheese are the offenders in the "everything tastes the same" category. La Casa Cuevas doesn't do that.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Femme de Joie

      • Avatar CoachBob says:

        Yes, melted cheese! That's what most Mexican places call "sauce". Sad. If you'll recall, and I KNOW you've been here long enough to recall, IMO Ramona's Mexican (where Gironda's is now), for 30 or so years had the only "real" sauce that was truly distinctive. No one in this biz seems to care about a good sauce anymore. The main staples from a Mexican joint: tortillas, cheese, burger, chicken, beans and rice. You can mix that around any way you want, call it whatever you want, but it all tastes the same (to me). Even when you put the canned red/green topping on it. Just my tummy talkin'! CoachBob

  3. Avatar Canda says:

    For fish tacos, Tortuga Bay Grill has my favorites. Order them with the chili lime sauce, and you won't be disappointed. You can substitute the rice and beans for any one of their sides. The fish is grilled and not breaded. I also love the addition of feta cheese.

  4. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Well, maybe our friend from "Restaurant Impossible" could help them with that "oversized" menu, etc. It's a thought!

  5. Avatar Itoldyouso says:

    I would not ever eat at this place, even if the food was free. Cockroaches and food storage & handling did it for me. No..No..No…

    The Shasta County Food Inspector is your friend people !

    Read all about their problems.

    http://www.co.shasta.ca.us/EHI/frmPubInspViol.asp

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Itoldyouso,

      What you have written is accurate. However, it is also accurate to point out that there are very, very few restaurants in Shasta County – including the expensive ones – that have not had similar food inspection reports, including cockroaches and food storage & handling issues, as well as more serious problems.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Femme de Joie

  6. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Femme de Joie, this was a wonderful restaurant review as usual. I'm always conflicted about Mexican food because I, even when I was impoverished, ate some of the most memorial food when I was going to school in Southern California. That is to say that the venue might have been lacking, but the food was extraordinary. La Cabana comes closest to what I experienced. I'm thinking that "bottom line" mentality ( beans from a can) is part of the an established practice in Northern California.

  7. Avatar Itoldyouso says:

    Femme de Joie you should be ashamed of yourself, calling this a "restaurant review."

    I believe this is nothing more than a paid advertisement to you "in one form are another" by the restaurants.

    You are no better than that Redding Facebook fellow you so despised.

    You are so right, there are many restaurant owners that could care less about the public or food safety. To them, it's all about the money. Kind of self-defeating.

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Itoldyouso,

      Femme de Joie can hardly contain her delight at reading your most interesting comment. Normally when she gets hate mail, it's because she dissed someone's favorite restaurant, and she is called an old poopyheaded harpy who wouldn't know good food if it snuck up and bit her on her sizeable ass, and furthermore the outraged reader will never read this column again, slamming the virtual door as they flounce out.

      But you have surpassed that by being outraged at a good restaurant review! Congratulations! Femme de Joie feels that if she is an equal-opportunity poopyhead, irritating readers from all colors of the rainbow with a mere tap of her keyboard, she must be doing something right.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Femme de Joie

      P.S. Here is how one restaurant dealt with a bad Yelp review.

      • Avatar CoachBob says:

        Now, THAT'S a smart restaurant owner! You can't please everyone in the restaurant biz. That's for sure…but you can take a crappy review and make lemonaide out of it. It still may suck (the sandwich) but it'll make him lots of money, and probably new customers as well. Good for him.

        btw, the pictures you printed of the food in this place are the worst looking plates of food I think I've ever seen in this space. Your photography is perfect. Just the food looks gross. I'll let Lobeski Snyder keep 'em in business but they'll never get a dime of mine. (The review was good, it warned me. Thank you.)

        • Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

          It was a great review of a restaurant I've never visited. I will however visit La Cabana when I want great Mexican food.

          • I've been a fan of La Cabana for many years. And like Femme de Joie, I think the fish tacos are especially delicious. Their mole is amazing, too.

            (I also ask for a fish taco salad – which isn't on the menu – made with the insides of a fish taco on lettuce with diced tomato and the fish taco sauce, all sans tortilla … just tell them you want the fish taco salad that Doni orders. 🙂

          • Avatar CoachBob says:

            Sorry, JLS, for the mistake on my part. I read too quickly and thought you were referring to the place in the review.

            Cabana is decent food (almost identical menu as the joint at 4-corners in Enterprise). But, while I don't like ANY taco I will try the mole next time I'm in there (AJ, if you're reading this, that's where we had lunch a month or so ago. Wanna go again lol?)

            CoachBob

  8. Avatar KarenC says:

    I love Tex-Mex food, which is what most Mexican restaurants in Redding serve. Not one…Yes, NOT ONE knows how to make a good rice or beans. It seems like it is simply something to fill the plate. Why? There are so many wonderful recipes for Spanish/Mexican rice that are full of flavor and colorful. Flavorful beans are so easy to make, why don't they?

    I wish there was (and maybe there is) an authentic Mexican restaurant in town. We have some very good friends who are from Mexico. They cook the best food ever. ReaMexicanan food uses very fresh ingredients, is healthy, uses very little cheese. Did you know that? So, if anyone is reading, and knows how to cook well and wants to be a success with Mexican food, do it right….I will be there!

  9. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    I will never, ever get tired of your restaurant reviews. They're clever, informative, cheeky and perfectly even-handed.

    You, madame, are a gem.

  10. Avatar Richard says:

    'tis good to again enjoy News Cafe after a considerable absence. Lured by Valerie's exceptional playlists and Doni's excruciatingly witty and delicious prose, I find the site difficult to leave. But I am a bit confused–I see Doni signing on as both Greenberg and Chamberlain. Please state your preference.

    Thanks,

    RC

    • Welcome back, Richard. We've missed you, and are so glad that we were able to lure you back. Valerie is quite the attraction. You have good taste in columnists. 😉

      Regarding the name – Chamberlain or Greenberg, alas , it's back to Chamberlain. (And, dear readers, thank you for your patience as I assumed my new identity. This is my final name change.

      Greenberg was nice while it lasted, but it no longer belongs to me. )

      Must go now to purge all traces of the old Greenberg from anewscafe.com. Thank you for bringing that to my attention. 🙂

  11. Avatar Joe Piazza says:

    I know this is not about politics, and I apologize for getting off subject, but I bet Coach Bob will vote for Mitt Romney in November. He just strikes me as the type!

  12. Avatar Annie says:

    I agree this is not much more useful than the "eatery" endorsements dished out by the Wretched Flashlight's "reviews".

    It's no wonder restaurants in the north state largely suck. That's because there reviewers around here are much too charitable, to put it kindly. Or perhaps they're just undiscriminating.

    • Avatar Annie says:

      Well after reading your blog, I take back what I said. I do think you've been too kind here, but you seem to call 'em as you see 'em in general, which is very refreshing.

      Love to see a review of Lim's Cafe if you wrote one. I cannot understand why that place is still in business. I am still digesting the meal I had there five years ago. I'm not sure they ever clean their grill.